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Brad Faxon wins Payne Stewart Award

Brad Faxon won the biggest award of his career without being able to hit a golf shot.

Faxon, recovering from Sept. 13 knee surgery that ended his season, was honored Wednesday at the Tour Championship with the Payne Stewart Award, given to players who show respect for golf's traditions by the way they handle themselves and their charity work.

Stewart, who died in a plane crash in 1999, four months after winning his second U.S. Open, was one of the most recognizable figures on the PGA Tour with his knickers and tam o'shanter cap.

``I don't think there can be a greater honor for any golfer, what they can do off the golf course,'' Faxon said.

Turning to Stewart's daughter, Chelsea, now a sophomore at Clemson, he said, ``There's no way any player can have anything bestowed on them better than what your dad leads us all on still today, to try to represent the tour the way he did.''

Faxon is an eight-time winner on the PGA Tour, his last victory coming in August at the Buick Championship in Hartford when he closed with a 61 and won in a playoff. He had surgery two weeks later to repair torn ligaments in his right knee, an injury he first suffered nearly two years ago.

He endeared himself to the British gallery at St. Andrews this year. Unable to play in a U.S. qualifier for the British Open because he was at his charity event, Faxon flew to Scotland for a 36-hole qualifier that offered only three spots. He barely got in, then contended on the weekend before closing with a 76 to tie for 23rd.

Faxon and Billy Andrade run the CVS Charity Classic, a two-day event in Rhode Island that has raised more than $6 million for children's charities in New England.

``This is like winning a major off the course,'' Faxon said.

With that, he issued a plea for young players starting on tour to treat the award with as much respect as they would a green jacket.

``When I first heard about the Payne Stewart Award, I thought in the back of my mind it would be a great thing to win some day,'' he said. ``But I would urge all the young players that this is an award that's an important as trying to win a major. I hope every young guy on the PGA Tour tries to win the Payne Stewart Award. We'll be better off.''

Faxon said he is more concerned about young players' behavior than he was 10 years ago, saying the sport has gotten more popular and the money is closer in line with other sports.

``A lot of guys out there are not growing up in a setting that might teach them the etiquette of the game, and what's important,'' he said.

Previous winners of the award were Jack Nicklaus, Arnold Palmer and Byron Nelson in 2000; Ben Crenshaw in 2001; Nick Price in 2002; Tom Watson in 2003; and Jay Haas last year.

November 3, 2005

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